STORY BEHIND THIS WINE
When ambitious young Paul Filliatreau, just 24 years old, bought his father’s 8 ha estate in 1967, it wasn’t so much a changing of the guard as the beginning of a new epoch. The difficult post war period had seen vignerons concentrate on volume over quality and Paul’s father had focussed on rosé, which Paul these days says was “disgusting”! He felt that the Cabernet Franc based red wines were undervalued and under-represented in the ten year old appellation of Saumur Champigny.
During the 1970s he modernised the cellars, installing stainless steel vats and making what today we would recognise as a typical fresh fruity style, but back then it was a radical transformation. He also promoted his wines tirelessly and they proved very popular in Parisian bistros and beyond as he became a locomotive for change and an ambassador for the whole appellation. Paul met his Swedish wife Lena when she came to work the harvest and today their adult children Christina and Frederik work at the domaine too.
Over the decades the estate has grown to about 45 hectares and they also own nearby Chateau Fouquet acquired in the 1990s. Their best vineyard is La Grand Vignolle, 6ha on a tufa limestone plateau bought in 1990 and remarkably underneath it in the hillside they found troglodyte caves excavated in the 12th century that they have turned into a tourist attraction.
The focus is still on Cabernet Franc, but they also make small quantities of excellent whites made from Chenin Blanc and a sparkling Saumur, made by the ‘method traditionelle’. The vineyards are farmed organically and will all be certified biodynamic from the 2021 harvest. Read more.
The ‘Vieilles Vignes’ cuvée as the suggests is made from name ‘Old Vines’, from vineyards planted 60 to 100 years ago. The 100% manual harvest is fully sorted in the cellar. The grapes are completely destemmed and placed in 150 hl stainless steel vats, fermenting for about 20 days of maceration between 24 ° C and 28 ° C to preserve the fruit as much as possible.
The wine is powerful yet fresh with aromas that are mostly dark fruits such as blackcurrant and dark raspberry with a light herbaceous and liquorice note so typical of the Cabernet France variety with light tannins and fresh acidity. Ageing adds a light earthy tobacco like note. We suggest you try it lightly chilled, 12-13C, if the weather is warm.
Press & Reviews
"...the imperial Vieilles Vignes - a mesmerising and peerless glimpse of what Loire Cabernet Franc is capable of."
Matthew Jukes - '100 Most Iconic Wine Estates'